‘Tis the Season for the Gift of Health

‘Tis is the season for family gatherings, workplace and school festivities and amazing worship services as we celebrate the Birth of Christ. We hustle about in search of the perfect gifts for our loved ones - braving cold weather, heavy traffic, large crowds and parking lot scuffles at malls and department stores. Our grocery list grows longer as we shop for beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, turkeys…you name it!

In this season of celebration and gift giving, it is customary to think of others. In keeping with the tradition set by the giving of gifts to Jesus by the Wise Men, we show love and affection when we bestow gifts to our family and friends which is indeed, a beautiful practice. But guess what? The best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones is the gift Health. Taking time to care for yourself is the best way to be available to care for others. When we allow ourselves to be overcome with holiday hassles – be it stressing over the perfect gift, over-the-top meal preparation, creating financial woes or succumbing to overeating – we can set ourselves up for struggles that last far beyond the holiday season. Rest, healthy eating, exercise and non-stressful giving is a recipe for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Choose to give yourself the gift of rest. Make a pledge to take time out of all the holiday gatherings, planning and shopping to get ample physical and mental rest. Whether it’s a trip to the spa or simply setting aside some “me” time at home for a few “Netflix and Chill” nights, commit to enjoying your definition of rest and relaxation. Eleanor Brownn said it best: “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Getting ample rest is a gift to yourself and those that you love.

We look forward to holiday meals all year. We can’t think of Christmas without thoughts of sugar plums (and gingerbread cookies, sweet potato pie and peach cobbler) dancing in our heads! While we love our desserts and glazed hams, and cornbread dressing, these scrumptious delectables do not come without a price. Studies and surveys show that the average weight gain during the holidays is 1 to 5 pounds. Not only does unhealthy eating and over-indulgence cause weight gain, but it can lead to other health concerns such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Cooking healthier versions of your favorite foods - with less fat and sugar - is a great way to still enjoy the seasonal treats without suffering unfavorable consequences. This is beneficial not only to you but also to your loved ones. Also, it is important to continue your normal healthy eating and exercise regimen. In all your hustle and bustle, don’t neglect that trip to the gym or that jog through the park. Maintaining this practice of discipline will afford you the opportunity to indulge in a few treats here and there throughout the season.

Give budget conscious gifts that inspire healthy living. Tweak your giving list to include things that encourage health and wellness, both for yourself and your family. The internet abounds with amazing gift ideas that promote a healthy lifestyle and as an added bonus, shopping online renders relief for long lines and overcrowded parking lots. A quick trip to Google offers affordable gift ideas ranging anywhere from fitness trackers, nutrition journals and water bottles to gym memberships, juicers and workout clothing. These thoughtful and budget-friendly gift ideas show that you care while also allowing you relief from the stress of shopping and the aftermath of holiday debt.

‘Tis the season to be both healthy and happy. Armed with the commitment to give yourself the gift of health though rest, food choices, exercise and budget-friendly gift giving, enjoy the holidays to the fullest. You will thank yourself for this act of self-love far beyond the holiday season!

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